Missing angler likely ejected from boat in rough waves, says FWC

Missing angler likely ejected from boat in rough waves, says FWC. (WPEC)

The state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said on Monday, it appears a missing Lake Okeechobee angler was ejected from his boat in rough waves.

Officers and volunteers spent another day searching for Nik Kayler, before FWC suspended the search for the evening. The agency said the effort would resume Tuesday morning.

Kayler, of the Orlando area, participated in a tournament out of Okeechobee County last week.

Kayler and boat owner William Kisiah, of Louisiana, traveled Thursday to the south side of the Lake, through cold, windy and rough conditions.

Kayler and Kisiah failed to appear at the end of the day for the tournament check-in. Later that night, only Kisiah turned up with his damaged boat near Pahokee Marina.

After speaking with Kisiah, FWC issued an update Monday.

The agency said the preliminary investigation indicates the men encountered rough waters and struck a wave, resulting in Kayler being ejected from the boat.

FWC said it continued to search for Kayler, with the help of multiple agencies.

“I just felt like I should come down here, and look around some myself today,” said Larry Crossman, an avid Lake O fisherman, and guide from the city of Okeechobee.

Crossman traveled to Belle Glade, to help with the search for Kayler.

“I feel kind of feel sorry for the family,” said Crossman. “The way this wind has been blowing, there’s no telling where he’s at.”

“You know it’s like we lost a brother out there,” said Ed Stiefel, of West Lake Worth.

“Trying to find out what happened to him, just find any piece of the puzzle that can help,” said Stiefel, who added he regularly fishes tournaments and on Lake O.

Stiefel described the mood Monday among the searchers on the Lake as somber.

Anglers familiar with Lake Okeechobee say it’s deceivingly shallow, can become rough quickly, and across the Lake, numerous obstacles lie just below the surface.

“It’s just real shallow,” said Stiefel. “You’ve got to know where the lake levels are at, what not to run, what you can run, and just be real careful.”

“It’s a very sad thing,” said longtime angler Mike Miller, whose boat is docked at Pahokee.

“Thursday the Lake was angry,” observed Miller. “It was like a Maytag, like a washing machine, whitecaps. It was pretty rough out here.”

The other fisherman William Kisiah went to the hospital and was treated for hypothermia.

FWC spokeswoman Officer Amy Moore told CBS12 the search is still classified a rescue mission. But on behalf of the agency, Moore also expressed sympathies to the victims and families involved.

Moore said the search is expected to resume after daybreak Tuesday.

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